June 21 is officially the first day of summer, but -- as happens during any election year -- the heat is going to set in well before then. It's going to be a long, hot spring and an even longer, hotter summer.
Unless things are going swimmingly, mid-term elections are never easy for the party of a sitting president. If they are not, then the inclination of the electorate is to split the power between the political parties of the president and the legislature. This means that the party opposite the president's political party gets a boost. In other words, this should be a good election year for Republicans.
A Washington Post-ABC News Poll, (conducted April 24-27, 1,000 adults, sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 points), released on Tuesday of this week provides data that back up this point.
President Obama's generic approval number is down. The poll noted that 41 percent polled approve of the way Obama is "handling his job as president," versus 52 percent who disapprove. When looking at registered voters, Obama's numbers get worse; 54 percent disapprove.
Obama's performance is broken into three categories: "the economy" (42 percent approve versus 54 percent disapprove); "the situation involving Russia and Ukraine" (34 approve versus 46 percent disapprove); and the way he is handling "the implementation of the new health care law" (37 percent approve versus 57 percent disapprove). In all three of these areas, the disapproval ratings go up when the sample is narrowed to registered voters only.
But wait: There is more bad news for the Democrats and President Obama. The people who feel strongly are more numerous among those who disapprove than among those who approve. The number of those who strongly disapprove of Obama's handling of the economy is 41 percent, versus 20 percent who strongly approve. Regarding the situation involving Russia and Ukraine, those who strongly disagree number 31 percent, versus 17 percent who strongly approve. In the implementation of the new health care law, 44 strongly disapprove versus 24 percent who strongly approve. In all three areas, the number of those who strongly disapprove nearly doubles the number who approve.
People who feel strongly tend to be more likely to give money, volunteer their time and turn out to vote in the midterm elections.
The feeling of disapproval extends beyond the president.
People are still strongly opposed to the federal mandated health care system, 24 percent strongly support it, versus 34 percent who strongly oppose. After implementation, only 24 percent believe that the "overall health care system in this country" is better, while 44 percent believe it is worse.
When reviewing the performance of a country as a whole, 30 percent of respondents believe we are on the right track as a country, and 66 percent believe that the country is on the wrong track. This feeling is even stronger among registered voters (28 percent right track, 69 percent wrong track).
And as if the news for the Democratic Party is not bad enough this year, the Bureau of Economic Analysis released its first-quarter estimate this Wednesday. "Real gross domestic product -- the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States -- increased at an annual rate of 0.1 percent in the first quarter" (that is, from the fourth quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of 2014), according to the "advance" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. "In the fourth quarter, real GDP increased 2.6 percent."
While this lower number includes the effect of bad weather throughout the country, by the time November rolls around, the weather will have been forgotten and the anemic economic growth number will remain.
No matter how you slice it, the political climate is going to get hotter, especially for President Obama and Democrats running for office. While voters in mid-term elections tend to get motivated by being disenchanted with those in power, the Republicans should not count on that. To win long term, the Republicans need offer not only an alternative to the Democrats but better solutions and a path to a brighter future for all.